It seems that the indie game craze has given voice and opportunity to many developers who might have otherwise gone unnoticed and is creating a trend among individuals leaving careers in the AAA games industry in order to forge an independent path of creativity. This was the case for Bodie Lee who left a fairly lucrative career to pursue the life of an indie by creating his own studio Lunar Ray Games and launching his dream project called Timespinner.
After leaving several big name studious Lee decided to try and grab hold of the same success that many indie game innovators were having on Kickstarter by releasing his own campaign with his personal passion 18 years in the making. We recently had the opportunity to ask Lee why he would leave one of the biggest names in video games to launch Timespinner.
Jesse Tannous: Can you give me a little background into your work with Microsoft and Bungie?
Bodie Lee: At Microsoft I worked in the Xbox Test Division, doing Quality Assurance on big titles such as Alan Wake, Gears of War 3, and Kinect Star Wars 3. After that I moved on to Bungie where I was a Production Engineer. My job there consisted mostly of writing software tools to help streamline workflows.
JT: What ultimately made you decide to leave companies like Microsoft and Bungie to pursue your own indie project?
BL: It started when I saw the Kickstarter for a Metroidvania game called Chasm. Their success, and the fact Timespinner was so similar, gave me the "indie bug". This got even worse when I went to PAX Prime and saw how awesome the Indie Megabooth was. One day my manager asked me about my career: "What do you want to do?" I realized that all I wanted to do was work on Timespinner. So that's what I did!
JT: In what ways has your experience as an indie developer differed from your work with those previous companies?
BL: There's a really good blog post that a former co-worker of mine wrote, that sums it up pretty nicely. When you're working for a big game company, you're a small cog that fits in a bigger machine. While your work is important, your responsibilities are limited within a specific scope. When you're working independently, your scope of responsibilities grows infinitely in all directions. It's suddenly up to you to determine where you spend your time and energy. This shift was probably the most jarring for me, but I eventually got the hang of it.
JT: You described how you’ve developed the world of Timespinner for the last 18 years. How did you approach narrowing down the content you have to an approachable game for the masses?
BL: Timespinner is a side-story in a much bigger story in the galaxy of Erneah. The primary plot of Erneah is designed to be told in RPG-form, simply because of its sheer size. In the past I've tried making games that tell the primary story with tools such as RM2k, but it always proved to be too big of a task to do on my own. When I first made the prototype for Timespinner, I knew that I wanted to take a manageable piece of the Erneah story and turn it into a side-story game. This is the primary reason that Timespinner is a platformer- this genre is well suited for smaller teams and stories.
JT: What kind of experiences do you hope players of Timespinner will walk away with?
BL: I hope that people enjoy the story and gameplay so much that they can't wait to hear about what happens next in the galaxy of Erneah!
Timespinner has already acquired its Kickstarter goal and is now moving forward in final development. Lee is just one of many creators who have stepped out of the corporate office in order to take a shot at independent game development.
Lee and his Timespinner, like the name implies, may have just picked the best time to make an eighteen year dream project a reality.